CICCC Update—12 October 2000 Meeting

 Terminals Pty Ltd, the operators of the bulk liquid chemical storage at Coode Island, is seeking approval for a $60 million upgrade of their facility. The EPA organised hearings on 3rd and 4th October, to provide a public forum for discussion on the Works Approval application submissions.

The hearings were ably conducted by Professor Ian Rae, a former Deputy Vice Chancellor of Victoria University of Technology. Professor Rae established an atmosphere of informality at the hearings, which allowed free discussion on issues of concern to those who attended.

As well as the submission made on behalf of the CICCC, Ian Thomas and Faye Simpson who are community members of the CICCC made individual submissions in their areas of particular expertise. A technically strong submission was presented by John Luppino and Gordon Harrison on behalf of the Cities of Maribyrnong and Melbourne. Submissions were also made by Michael Isaachsen, Cr. Cumming (Maribyrnong City Council), Colleen Hartland (HazMAG), Commander Trevor Perkins (Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board), Dr Anne Geschke (the Department of Human Services), Matthew Wylie (Victorian WorkCover Authority) and Victoria Mallinder (Department of Infrastructure).

EPA revealed at the hearing that they had sent a request to Terminals on 7 September for further information on a list of eight items. These items included additional measures to minimise vapour emissions of benzene, BTX, styrene, toluene, ethyl benzene, acrylonitrile and propylene oxide from the facility, and a Fire Safety Study for Stages 1, 2 and 3 of the proposed redevelopment.

The CICCC is concerned that the approval process consists of a sequence of approvals (the EPA Works Approval, the Dangerous Goods Licence, the Safety Case, and Emergency Management approvals), of which the EPA approval is the first. It is the only one on which public comment is sought. An integrated approval process would have been easier to understand, more comprehensive and transparent, and fairer to all parties. Terminals Pty Ltd, to their credit, has made a significant effort to communicate their proposal, and its likely effects, to the CICCC.

Both the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board and WorkCover drew attention to gaps in information provided by Terminals, particularly in relation to Stages 2 and 3.

MFESB submitted (in part) “To facilitate the ‘whole of Government approach’ the EPA are requested, in their consideration of the submitted WAA (the application), to recognise the inability of the MFESB to adequately assess the proposed redevelopment against operational requirements until all required information is made available. The Fire Brigade therefore believes it to be inappropriate to lock in the current site layout as proposed by the WAA.”

WorkCover submitted (in part) “The information provided within the WAA does not provide sufficient detail for the appropriateness of the control measures proposed for Stages 2 & 3 to be adequately assessed.”

The CICCC awaits the report of Professor Ian Rae, which should be publicly available within a few days.

The CICCC noted that the issues which it had flagged in the lead up to the application were taken up by the Cities of Maribyrnong and Melbourne, and by the other agencies. It is clear that the detailed scrutiny and exposure of the proposal by the CICCC has resulted in the responsible agencies looking very closely at this major proposal, and giving it very careful attention.

The next CICCC meeting will be held on Thursday 9 November 2000. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting at the Maribyrnong Town Hall on the corner of Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray at 6.30pm. A further meeting has been scheduled for 14 December, by which time the outcome of the upgrade proposal should be known.

Robin Saunders, Chair CICCC, 18 October 2000